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An air of sweat and a fang-tastic meal

In an art museum, it’s what’s on the walls that counts. But what if what’s on the walls includes stuff like sweat by-products and nail polish remover? Lactic acid and acetone were some of the compounds that a group of air-quality researchers tracked floating around a Colorado art museum. Good air is important in the effort to preserve art, but some chemicals are just a little “stickier” than others, says Demetrios Pagonis, one of the chemists at the University of Colorado Boulder who led the study

Date Published: June 15, 2019

Publication: Chemical and Engineering News

Author: Megha Satyanarayana

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Clothing impacts indoor air quality: a collaborative modeling study

The World Health Organization estimates that 3.8 million people die prematurely from exposure to indoor air pollution per year. However, in comparison to outdoor air pollution, indoor air has not been studied in much detail. Indoor air chemistry is different to outdoor air chemistry as follows; (1) sources of indoor pollutants include outdoor-to-indoor transport but daily activities such as cooking and cleaning are also important (2) chemical species are trapped in a relatively small space and transported outdoors at the air-exchange rate, (3) photochemistry is reduced and (4) a high surface area indoors which includes walls, carpets, furniture and people makes heterogeneous chemistry especially important.

Date Published: May 17, 2019

Publication: Nature Research

Author: Pascale Lakey

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Studies show how homes can pollute indoor air

Americans spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes. During that time, people cook. They clean. They chat, read, play, watch TV and do other things. People also bathe and sleep. And throughout it all, they breathe. New studies find that our activities can pollute the air we breathe indoors. And some of those compounds may harm our health.

Scientists and engineers shared some of their new findings, here, at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on February 17.

Both indoors and out, “activities can be a main driver of air quality,” observes Marina Vance. She’s an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Researchers have studied outdoor air pollution for decades. Indeed, many countries have created laws to limit pollution in outdoor air. But researchers know much less about the pollutants that can be created in reactions between chemicals floating around indoors, Vance says.

Date Published: May 13, 2019

Publication: Science News for Students

Author: KATHIANN KOWALSKI

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Is Conference Room Air Making You Dumber?

You’re holed up with colleagues in a meeting room for two hours, hashing out a plan. Risks are weighed, decisions are made. Then, as you emerge, you realize it was much, much warmer and stuffier in there than in the rest of the office.
Small rooms can build up heat and carbon dioxide from our breath — as well as other substances — to an extent that might surprise you. And as it happens, a small body of evidence suggests that when it comes to decision making, indoor air may matter more than we have realized.

Date Published: May 6, 2019

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Veronique Greenwood

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Study reveals fate of indoor chemical emissions, including unexpected buildup of lactic acid from sweat

Lactic acid—the main chemical in human sweat—leaves our skin, travels through the air, and sticks to our walls. And according to a team of chemists who outfitted the University of Colorado Art Museum with state-of-the-art air-sampling instruments: it’s doing so at surprisingly high rates. The finding highlights the need to better understand the fate of the indoor chemicals, especially those that may impact human health.

Date Published: May 6, 2019

Publication: Phys.Org

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Your Walls are Covered in Sweat

Lactic acid—the main chemical in human sweat—leaves our skin, travels through the air, and sticks to our walls. And according to a team of chemists who outfitted the University of Colorado Art Museum with state-of-the-art air-sampling instruments: it’s doing so at surprisingly high rates. The finding highlights the need to better understand the fate of the indoor chemicals, especially those that may impact human health.

Date Published: April 30, 2019

Publication: CIRESNews

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Art enthusiasts leave chemical traces of gallery visits on artwork

The priceless, porous artwork that adorns the walls of a US university art gallery probably hosts a surprising proportion of the chemicals that have been breathed and sweated out by its visitors, a month-long field study has found. University of Colorado Boulder chemists spent four weeks monitoring the air inside a gallery at their university’s new art museum, looking at levels of volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide and other trace gases known to be given off by humans. The proportions emitted by a typical person has been determined by previous studies, here the team wanted to catalogue where these chemicals go – their fate.

Date Published: April 27, 2019

Publication: Chemistry World

Author: Nina Notman

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Is Sunday dinner bad for you?

Everyone is aware of air pollution in cities. The mix of traffic fumes, cigarette smoke and smog from factories harms our environment and can cause respiratory disease. But little research has been done about air quality where we spend around 90% of our time: indoors. Could cooking a roast dinner at home be as bad for our health as rush-hour exhaust? The HOMEChem project decided to find out.

Date Published: April 19, 2019

Publication: Royal Society of Chemistry

Author: Kit Chapman

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The Hidden Air Pollution in Our Homes

Food magazines typically celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-July, bronzing turkeys and crimping piecrust four months in advance. By that time last year, Marina Vance, an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado Boulder, had already prepared two full Thanksgiving dinners for more than a dozen people. Vance studies air quality, and, last June, she was one of two scientists in charge of homechem, a four-week orgy of cooking, cleaning, and emissions measurement, which brought sixty scientists and four and a half million dollars’ worth of high-tech instrumentation to a ranch house on the engineering campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

Date Published: April 1, 2019

Publication: The New Yorker

Author: Nicola Twilley

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